I knew long before Columbine that something drastic needed to be done with the issue of bullying. In 1992, I observed in horror as I watched the Sunday morning news. “Middle school student committed suicide.” The news anchor went on to explain the student was a victim of bullying in her school. Well, that middle school student was a former student of mine. The next-day counselors flooded our school in the hope of helping the student body deal with the tragedy. I was riddled with guilt even though I made sure the bullies did not bother her while in my class. As I stated in my first article, bullies are very adept at what they do.
Unfortunately, the teachers could not walk the girl home from school each day. The bullies followed her home and took their meanness to the highest level. Bullies had a field day with her because the student came from a broken home. The girl’s mother abandoned her, and the poor child bounced from one foster care to another.
Why in a civilized nation should any child end his or her life due to bullying? What is wrong with this picture? The only answer I have for the aforementioned questions: We cannot change what happened in the past, but we can be diligent that no other child’s life will come to an abrupt end.
Suicide is more common among kids who are bullied than most people realize. I remember reaching a low point when I first came to the United States. It was hard adjusting to a new culture; I did not need to be taunted by a bunch of bullies. You can read a published article about experiences here.
What I have learned over the years both as a parent and as a teacher is you must be persistent. Sometimes, you have to get the authorities involved. I remember too well one girl in my class whose mother filed charges against a boy who constantly taunted her daughter. Mooing a girl because of her large breasts goes beyond bullying-It falls in the category of sexual harassment. The boy doing the mooing was obstinate. The incident had been reported to the principal, and many meetings with the boy’s parents proved futile. Can you imagine the embarrassment of a 12-year girl being made fun of every time she walked down the hallway in her school? "Mooo, mooo , mooo, we need to milk the cow," chanted the boy.
Thankfully, her mom notified the authorities, and the boy had to appear in court. The family had to pay a hefty fine. The bullying and teasing came to a screeching halt.
My wish for anyone reading this post is to take time and hug your child if you have one. Pay close attention and listen to your child. Teachers, please keep a watchful eye in your classroom. I am very thankful things are better than they were before Columbine. Read an article about how things have changed since Columbine. Valentine’s Day is only a few days away, let us make an effort to say, “I Love You” to a child or an adult.